Archive for the Politics Category

It’s Not Always Anti-Semitism

Posted in Me, Politics, Rants, Zombie Nazis! on March 4, 2011 by frumpunk

Two police officers knocked on my door yesterday. Apparently they’d had a call about suspicious activity at my house, something about someone calling in that they didn’t recognize my car. They said there had been some break-ins in the area recently. They checked my license against the car registration, got confirmation that I did indeed live here and own the car, apologized and left. The whole thing was very cordial.

I told my friend about it after and his response was “I guess you have an anti-Semite for a neighbor”, which really annoyed me. Whats the origin of this knee-jerk reaction that any seemingly negative thing involving a Jew is a product of someone with a deep-seated hatred of Jews? Based on what the cops said, it’s safe to assume I have a skittish neighbor, probably an older person with the free time to observe the neighborhood and worry about things, especially if there have indeed been burglaries in the area.

I’m halfway curious and halfway disturbed at the idea that I have friends who apparently view the world through the prism of “he hates me, she probably hates me, I think I saw her smirk at my yarmulka when she handed me my coffee…” I can recognize the origins somewhat. My generation grew up with a plethora of holocaust literature and stories from the shtetl, all of which can reinforce the idea that you live in a dark world where your local barista is just waiting for an Austrian dictator to ship you off so he can loot your house and take your stuff. I’m mocking a bit, sure, but I’d rather think that I have an overly cautious person on my street who’s suspicious of youngins, than someone shaking a fist at that damn Jew while thumbing a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf.

Election Day

Posted in Me, Politics, Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 by frumpunk

The first time I was old enough to vote was during the 2004 showdown of Bush Vs Kerry. I was in yeshiva at the time and I remember a few weeks before the election the rosh yeshiva giving an address to the entire beis medrash informing us that the gedolim had instructed everyone who was old enough to vote for George Bush. At the time I didn’t question it, mainly because I didn’t really care about politics, but I do remember there was one guy in the entire yeshiva who was planning to vote democrat, and surprisingly, was actually “out of the closet” about it. He would debate anyone who was willing about his reasons to vote for Kerry, which if I remember correctly were based around the idea that he would be good for the economy and had better policies. I remember there was no real reason given for why we were all supposed to vote republican, probably because I suspect it was to do with gay marriage and other issues that were best not talked about. Fact was we didn’t care about politics anyway and if the gedolim told us to vote republican then that’s what we would do, and who was going to question daas torah?

Today I feel qualified to make up my own mind on whom to vote for. I tend to vote Democrat and not just because I’m a filthy socialist who wants to see America brought down from the inside. I can’t front, it’s because I pretty much see Republicans as hippocrites who use the family values platform to gain the votes of the poor and religious and then slash taxes for the rich and big business to get the votes of everyone else, at least everyone else above the wealth line. Though I do think Republicans have their uses. Christine O’Donnell alone filled comedy show scripts for weeks.

One of my teachers in high school was a fantastically wealthy guy who taught school simply because he didn’t have to work anymore. I personally, would have spent that time building a lair under a volcano and investing in pinky rings and cats, but that was his choice. I remember right after Bush was elected for the first time, he came into class, sat in his chair, leaned far back with his hands behind his head and said “Bush… that’s my guy. I’m buying three cars this year because of this tax cut they’re passing.”

I guess the connection between Republicans and wealthy was made for me when I was that young. Or maybe I’m wrong and still have to figure out where I really fit into politics.

Check back with me in ten years.

Dress For A Funeral (It’s A Frum Wedding)

Posted in Frum, Girls, Heimish, Me, Politics, Weddings on November 22, 2009 by frumpunk

While my brother and his fiancée (is it frum to say ‘fiancee’?) plan their wedding, I get to sit back and watch so I can learn to plan for my own someday. Sadly for my own laziness, I’ve had to be involved in a small way, coordinating my various relatives expectations of what they can expect and be expected to do at a frum wedding.

My father’s family are not frum at all. Never were, probably never will be. My brother and his betrothed are both recently-flipped-out-in-Israel frum. (Last week he bought a Borsalino. True story.) The only religious functions my dads family has ever had to attend were our bar mitzvas. which compared to a wedding are pretty low scale events. All they had to do was show up in the right section at shul and not wear anything cut too low on top or too high below.

So I was on the phone with my cousin, trying to explain to her what to wear to the wedding, as their idea of traditional wedding outfits wouldn’t quite cut it amongst my brothers new crowd. Until I hit the simplest solution and directed them to onlysimchas.com with the instructions to “just wear what those girls are wearing”. Thousands of frum girls at hundreds of weddings must give them some idea of the expected outfits, right?

They called me back in less than five minutes wanting to know why everyone seems to be wearing black. Cue a montage of the girls outfits at every wedding I’ve ever been to in my mind and I realized the obvious. “Just dress for a funeral”.

Because it’s true, black is not the new black for frum Jews, it’s all there ever was. And not just for the girls, black suits, black shoes, black hat… if not for the white shirts we’d be invisible at night. The most color I ever see on most frum girls is maybe a pink sash or bow, but only over her all black outfit. Maybe that’s why jean girls are the casual standard, because if formal wear limits you to one color, who wants to have to wear it during regular days too? Although that doesn’t explain why the GAP hoodies are always navy or black as well.

I don’t have a closing. I just have a request for the girls. Why the all black and who enforces it? Because someone must be directing this mono-fashion show.

Why People Leave

Posted in Frum, Girls, Israel, Politics on July 4, 2009 by frumpunk

Before I get to the post, let me ask a question: Is there any point in life in which you’re old enough to be around girls? I just had a great shabbos, and at shalos seudos I jokingly asked if we could come back every week. They laughed and said they’d love to, but their house is usually filled with seminary girls at shabbos. I said that was fine. I’m taken, and my friend needs to get married anyway. And they laughed again.

But seriously, those girls are going to be dating when they get back to New York anyway. It’s July, which means they’re probably only a few weeks away from being in a hotel lounge with Yanky for the first time. My point being, doesn’t it make sense to let yeshiva boys and sem girls meet each other if they’re both dating anyway? A shabbos table with a family seems as kosher a place to start as any other. (Incidentally, I’m not kidding when I said my friend needs to get married. Anyone interes ted? He’s 5’10, athletic, dresses well, polite, likes to learn. But he’s 26, yet looks 21. Which means if you’re a beard lover, you’re out of luck. He’s in Israel through July and will be back next September.)

The family I stayed at made aliyah for the second time a few years ago. They originally lived here through yeshiva and sem and stayed when they got married. They said they lived in Neve Yaakov and Ramat Beit Shemesh in the mid nineties. They said they left when they sensed that the religious communities were becoming polarized beyond what they considered comfortable. The first straw was when his wife was told that if she continued to wear denim skirts and tennis shoes, noone would want to be friends with her. The second was that the kids started coming home from school with stories about violence that their friends were involved in (stone throwing, protests, tzniyus patrol…). The last straw, so he said, was when someone wanted to open up a trade school for wayward teenagers. Get them involved in metal and woodwork, as he described it. The community rabbis forbade it, out of concern that the kids would enjoy it too much, and therefore never return to learning.

He said that he figured their kids could go one of two ways. They could stay and be over is issur of sinas chinam, or leave and risk the possibility of them being over giluy arayos. They returned to America and later made aliyah to a settlement where all types come together without polarization of any kind. And they couldn’t be happier.

Is New Years Kosher?

Posted in Chanukah, Heimish, Me, Politics on January 1, 2009 by frumpunk

I came out of my room this morning and wished my mother a happy new year. She responded that it wasn’t the new year, the new year was back in September. I’ve never really heard it discussed whether new years is technically allowed to be celebrated. On the one hand, it’s just the start of another calender year on the calender we all use, on the other hand, it’s celebrating another year since the birth of Jesus.

Yeshivos never bother to deal with this subject. New years for them is a cop-out, they lump it in with the Chanukah vacation so they don’t ever have to deal with whether there should be school on December 31st or January 1st. Honestly, it’s not an issue I ever thought about before this morning and I got that reply, but I’m hoping those of you from more heimishe communities can shed some light on whether it’s even an issue. Most people have parties, or at least watch the ball drop, right?

I didn’t even bother celebrating anything last night anyways. Just didn’t feel like it. I chose to avoid all parties, and spent the night rebuilding an ancient laptop so I would have a Windows machine to sync my Zune with. Only to find out my Zune was broken due to an error in the system clock where it doesn’t understand what a leap year is and couldn’t reconcile what yesterdays date was. It started working at midday today though.

I’m trying to decide if its been better than last year where I went to a house party I disliked, a club I hated and watched the fireworks with a girl I didn’t have any interest in.

Bush Vindicated; Claims Iraq Had Shoes All Along

Posted in Funny?, Politics on December 16, 2008 by frumpunk

President Bush last night claimed his decision to invade Iraq had been vindicated after US troops uncovered an arsenal of shoes on the outskirts of Fallujah.

More than 400 lethal shoes including sandals, pumps, desert boots and a solitary brogue were revealed as Mr Bush paid a final visit to Iraq to see if there was anything left. A White House spokesman immediately dismissed claims the US invasion had been based on Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, adding: “No we didn’t, we said shoes.” “We did and if you heard weapons of mass destruction, that’s your problem. You might want to try using a Q-Tip. “The spokesman added: “We believe that many of these shoes would have been built in China with Russian laces, French-made heels and odor-absorbing insoles purchased through back channels via the west African state of Niger.”

British Prime minister Gordon Brown backed Mr Bush insisting many of Iraq’s shoes were slip-ons that could activated in less than 45 minutes. But France denied supplying Iraq with shoe components insisting its only exports to Saddam’s regime had been a 1994 shipment of humanitarian espadrilles.

Meanwhile the Kremlin said most of Iraq’s shoes had actually been bought from ex-US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he worked for Hush Puppies in the early 1980s.

For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet:

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more about “Bush Vindicated; Claims Iraq Had Shoe…“, posted with vodpod

Introducing The KPhone

Posted in Frum, Funny?, Girls, Heimish, Politics on December 14, 2008 by frumpunk

The lowly phone has made great strides in the past decade or so. What used to be able to double as a murder weapon in a game of Clue has become a complete media device that does everything but make calls and is small enough to choke a goldfish. But the problem with phones, as we know is that they’re trief. Everything about them is trief. The phone feature allows boys and girls to talk to each other, the text message feature is even more insidious, allowing boys and girls to write (badly) to each other, the camera allows boys to take pictures of girls, the alarm clock allows boys to wake up to go see girls, the calculator allows boys to work out how much money they need to take a girl out (this is also the reason bochrim aren’t taught math. The phone destroys all that hard work). I could go on. And I will; the wallpaper allows the boys to set the picture of the girl to look at constantly, the FM radio (only with added headset usually) allows boys to listen to girls sing, the world clock allows boys to figure out the optimal time to call girls who live far away, and internet allows people to visit this blog.

Previous attempts at a kosher phone have only been met half way. They did not include a camera, text messaging or color screen, but they did allow boys and girls to talk to each other. But now the next generation of technological advances has brought us the KPhone, the result of four years labor by the most hemish scientists at the Institute for Advanced Heimishness. I was given one of the first production models to try out. At first glance it seems to be the answer to everything. It is well constructed, the aluminum seems durable and fashionable. An attempt to type a text message on its smooth rounded surface yielded no results. It requires no batteries and does not require a cell phone tower to receive a signal. I made a call and was surprised at the overall fidelity and signal cleanliness. It has no camera or radio option, and internet is out of the question. This truly seems like an excellent device.

Some gripes though; the string, while giving excellent audio fidelity is not really long enough to facilitate long distance calls abroad, so calling Israel or Canada from it seems to be out of the question. Secondly, if your call is lasting a long time, it gets tiring holding the headset to your ear. This problem is exacerbated if the headset previously held pickles or garlic, as this can leave a lingering odor. I was later informed that this was actually a feature, part of a method to keep the sexes apart using a new trial of unattractive smells. Also, if the headset edge wasn’t fully rounded off by the can opener, you may experience some cutting and bleeding around the ear and head area. Bulkiness is also an issue. Due to the lack of wireless, you are required to keep both headsets with you at all times, as well as keeping the person you wish to call close to you.

Overall, its an excellent first attempt and I look forward to the second revision, which I’m told may include a third string and headset to allow three way calling.

Hat tip to Mikeinmidwood for the inspiration. This started life as a mere comment on his post.